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Phantom Energy Usage & Education Credit Info

March 7th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Really interesting article on yahoo today - about phantom energy use (or whatever they call it). Included a link for a variety of products, tested for energy use in on mode, off mode, standby mode, etc. Now that's what I have been waiting for!


For us, our average electric bill is in the realm of $60/month. When everyone was saying to "unplug cellphone chargers when not in use," I Asked my dad, an electrical engineer, who said, "Complete B.S." But the masses told me it was so. So we unplugged our cell phone chargers when not in use, and our bill stayed the same. Big surprise...

More recently I saw some woman on Oprah saying something like she power stripped everything in her home, off when not in use, and she cut her bill from like $200 to $100 per month. Yeah, color me skeptical. I find that hard to believe.

Anyway, I checked this link out of extreme curiosity. Cell phone charger, not hooked up to phone, uses virtually NO electricicty. Not even 1KWH per year. Yeah, my dad was right on that one.

So I skimmed the list and found some USEFUL ideas to cut our electricity usage.

1 - One of the biggest power eaters, in standby position, is audio receivers. Interesting because dh likes to leave our main one on 24/7, and I am always turning it off because it gets really warm! I haven't noticed it so much lately, but I think we will have a chat about that.

He has a receiver in his office that used to be on all the time as well. Now, not so much. But I think we will have a new "turn it off when not in use" rule. Maybe he has seen this article already...

2 - We are proud that we have never bought a computer monitor in our life. We got some ancient hand-me-downs. Dh replaced one that went defunct a while ago, with another old one.

WOW, the difference in energy usage between CRT & LCD monitors is astounding. Maybe we should use our stimulus to upgrade? An idea. PArticularly the one main computer that is on almost all the time. The rest probably don't matter so much. But that one, the monitor is on standby about 12 hours a day. Interesting.

3 - It's the DVR, stupid! Since we switched to Dish, and HATE it, we are in DVR limbo. In the meantime dh has not unplugged the TIVO. Plus we are renting a DVR from Dish (well, 2 of them to be exact). Those need to be on all the time, to work.

We also have a VCR that dh uses for the "clock."

I will approach him about unplugging the TIVO (I am not sure if there is a reason to keep it plugged in. We are concerned about keeping our lifetime subscription status, in case we stick with TIVO in the end. It's just not compatible with Dish. But yeah, I am skeptical that it needs to be plugged in for any reason, other than dh is having trouble "letting go").

As far as the VCR/clock, I am thinking we can easily get the time off of the TV, or get up our butt and walk to the kitchen with all its little appliances with clocks. So I think I will suggest we unplug the VCR too. Generally the only reason our butt is parked in front of the VCR is because we are watching TV anyway.


Anyway, I am just glad to see truly useful information on the subject. & I definitely had to share!

Since we use so little electricity in the grand scheme of things, and calculating the KWH saved by implementing the above ideas, I could see it actually making a noticable impact on our bill.


Oh, and sorry I Am slow. I have been swamped at work so have taken opportunity to read and comment on other blogs, but hadn't read my own comments in a while. Doh. I saw some questions on the new education credit.

There is not a lot of info on it yet. I will fill you in as I hear more. The literature I have in front of me says it is ony for the first 2 years of full-time school (replaces the HOPE credit with a more generous one). I could have swore I read elsewhere it was also going to replace the lifetime learning credit as well (which applies to a lot more kinds of education). So, maybe it won't help me after all. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more info. But if you already have a degree, I Wouldn't get too excited about it. My bad! There has certainly been a lot of talk about more generous education credits though. I was confusing some of the talk with the actual law that was passed.

Here is some info:


Along the same lines, I was scared to look, as I noted in my last post on the subject. But I did look, and the Masters Program at my alma mater went from $8k in 2001 or so, to $12k today. Not bad!!!!! They still do not offer online courses. *sigh* I haven't ruled out driving once a week. It just won't be in the near future. (240 miles round trip - but I'd have a place to sleep there).

The private University I took one class at went from $15k to $30k in the same time frame. I thought $15k was bad back then. The online format does leave much to be desired, in my opinion. I took one Masters class at my alma mater, and it was most excellent. & then I took one private course when we moved up here, and got disillusioned. My employer up here would not pay for it. & there were no local schools to take live classes. Why I would certainly drive down one night a week, to get a higher degree there. Can't beat the price, anyway. More than than - it's just an excellent program. It's probably unlikley I will get access to a large education tax credit, since I am already educated and well paid. Fair enough!

5 Responses to “Phantom Energy Usage & Education Credit Info”

  1. north georgia gal Says:

    I have been with Dish for 8 year s and I LOVE it. Sorry you hate it!

  2. cptacek Says:

    I would think that things that heat up ARE using electricity, but things that don't aren't.

    Check out newegg.com for a new lcd monitor. I found a 19" LCD for $100 after two different rebates last year.

  3. frugaltexan75 Says:

    Also check at Circuit City or other computer stores and see if you can find an LCD screen that is the last one, and doesn't have a box. That's how I got my current screen - it was the display unit, the last available one, and had no box. I bought it in 2002 for $200, and it still is going strong (outlasted several computers!)

    Interesting info regarding the education credit. I hope they don't retract the Lifetime Learning Credit!

    That sounds like a long ways to drive for a class - but if you want the Masters bad enough, it would be worth it once a week.

  4. Amber Says:

    Thanks for the link, since I lost my job I am in the turn it off if not in use mode. I had Directv and hated it. When it got cloudy outside no tv, rain--no tv, sunshine and still not tv.

  5. zetta Says:

    I'm with your DH in wanting to be able to just glance over at a clock in certain rooms. If he misses the VCR clock, how about an old fashioned wall clock with hands that takes batteries?

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